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Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is reporting positive results from the communities of Whitfield Town, St. Andrew and Waterford in St. Catherine that were placed under special quarantine from October 6- 20.

The 14-day measure was to address the rise in positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the areas.

At the time, Whitfield Town had as many as 21 active cases, while Waterford had about 24 active cases and three deaths.

Addressing the weekly virtual COVID Conversations press briefing on Thursday (October 22), Minister Tufton said that the restriction resulted in a significant change of attitude, particularly among residents in Whitfield Town.

He said that before the special quarantine, community members perceived themselves to be at low risk of infection and as a result, did not wear masks regularly and did not observe social distancing. Some persons were reluctant to get tested.

He noted however, that “courtesy of our activities over the two weeks, more persons are wearing masks and wearing them correctly, fewer persons are gathering in public and are instead, staying at home.”

Additionally, Dr. Tufton reported that “some businesses had made available hand sanitizer for staff and patrons to use on entering, while others had set buckets with faucets to serve as handwashing stations at their entrance.”

Also, several businesses had erected signs for persons to wear masks and those without masks were denied entry.

The measures implemented for Whitfield Town and Waterford included special curfew hours from 6:00 pm to 5:00 pm; restriction in the number of persons at public gatherings to six; and strict enforcement of protocols such as the wearing of masks and physical distancing.

In addition, the presence of the security forces in the areas increased, and there were enhanced surveillance, health education and health promotion activities, as well as vector control and inspection of businesses.

Minister Tufton reported that in Whitfield Town, 236 samples were taken for testing, including from five persons who were symptomatic. He informed that 20 samples returned a positive result, reflecting a positivity rate of 9.7 per cent and 30 samples are awaiting results.

He said that the team found that the number of positive cases yielded from testing decreased over the period they were inside the community.

“Samples taken on October 16 and 18, for example, yielded only one positive result for each day,” he noted.

Meanwhile, over in Waterford, Dr. Tufton said that an initial assessment of the community was done on October 4 to determine the need for further intervention, during which 63 samples were taken, 15 of which returned positive results.

In addition, 11 of 33 nursing homes were visited and three active cases were found in two, which prompted the health authority to test all the nursing homes in Waterford, Bridgeport, Independence City, and Gregory Park.
However, no other positive cases were found.

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